On Saturday, August 27, our volunteer pilot Ted Dodds flew me into Sandy Lake, Ontario (a three hour flight by float plane) for the sacraments of initiation there. We joined Fr. Bart Burke who at the age of 82 is doing tremendous work preparing the young people all week for this great event in their lives. The celebration went well and was followed by a pot luck lunch. Fr. Bart will be celebrating his 83 birthday on August 29th, so the congregation sang Happy Birthday to him. The young people were both confirmed and received first Holy Communion as this event followed the restoration of the order of the sacraments (Confirmation followed by Holy Eucharist).
A high point for me was giving the cnadidates a retreat on being human, Jesus Christ, the challenge of forgiveness, and the Holy Spirit. They were quite attentive and surprisingly good singers. All 18 candidates showed up for the retreat.
As it was four years ago, my arrival happened to be when the annual Berry Ceremony was taking place. After the retreat with the candidates, Fr. Bart, pilot Ted Dodds and I went to the location at the sand pit 8 kilometeres in the bush for the feast. The elders spoke at lenght about the ceremony, I spoke briefly and blessed the food; a drum was given to a young girl who then followed an elder around the lodge so that each person could drum the large ceremonial drum while the girl drummed her drum at the same time. A pipe ceremony took place, after which everyone feasted on moose meat, goose, sturgeon, bannock and berries, as well as a special medicinal tea.